Adapted from a traditional folk song
(They sure don't write them like this anymore! If you're interested, you can find a great interpretation of the song on a Steeleye Span disc entitled "Commoner's Crown")
'Long' Lankin was a giant of a man and his size had handed him his nickname; no-one called him by his given name any more and, indeed, no-one even seemed to know what that was. But Lankin didn't mind for when you're as big and as strong as he was, no-one gives you any bother. Not if they want to remain in one piece, that is. Brushing the hair from out of his eyes, Lankin looked proudly up at the Keep that now dominated the local landscape, its defences impregnable to all but the most determined attack or siege. Five years of his life were tied up in that building, five years of sweat, toil and worry but he was pleased with the result. As one of the leading military architects of the time, Lankin and his skills were in great demand and Lord Zetland had been forced to promise him a good rate and a large bonus on completion in order to secure Lankin's services against competition from several other nobleman who had sought his services. And now the project was finished. The mighty Lord and his family along with their entourage had moved into the Keep a few days previously and now Lankin was on his way to collect his promised fee before moving on to his next job, a castle to be constructed on the Welsh borders, commissioned by the King himself!
Lord Zetland thrust himself into his young wife with an energy that belied his advancing years. The current Lady Zetland had cost him a significantly large dowry but she had proved to be a fine bargain in the short time since their wedding. Small and delicate, she never-the-less had a beauty that surpassed all other women in the north of England. Good at organising a household, she'd proved to be healthily wanton in bed and, in the year hat they had been wed, she'd already born him a fine son - something that neither of her predecessors had managed over many years of wedlock before they regrettably scrummed to the harsh realities of life on the north-east coast of England. "My Lord! My Lord!" the young woman cried loudly as he tubbed her remorselessly before finally shooting his seed deep into her. Collapsing atop of her, he lay there crushing the much smaller Lady beneath him for a goodly time before finally rolling off and allowing her to breath more easily.
"My husband," she said, "Why are you so dark?"
Sitting up and idly scratching at his bloated gut, the Lord looked deeply into the flames burning in the hearth before he drew breath and replied. "It's that Lankin fellow."
"The builder?" she enquired.
"Yes, the builder," Zetland sighed heavily. Builder? Whatever assets his wife possessed, intelligence was not one of them. "I promised him a bonus to be paid on completion of this Keep and today he came to claim his reward. But what with the poor crops of the last few years and the cost of my squabble with the Earl of Guisbourgh, I'm unable to pay what I owe. He wasn't pleased when I told him and he took it badly. Said I'd regret the day I crossed him."
"Is that important, My Lord?" she asked naively. "Lankin's only a peasant, after all. And the Keep is built. He can hardly knock it down around us, can he?""
"He's only a peasant, that is true... but he is a determined one who has the ears of many of his betters, including the King. He is also a bitter man who carries a grudge. I fear that annoying him does not bode well."
"But what can he actually do, My Lord? He lives in a hut amongst the gorse bushes outside the village... we reside here in this mighty fortress. How can he harm us?"
His wife's cheerful smile and an her sunny analysis of the situation did much to lift the weight from the Lord's shoulders. "You are correct. I am being a foolish old man who should know better," and so saying, Lord Zetland pulled back the warm sheepskins that covered his lovely wife's naked form, exposing to his hungry gaze her fine white breasts that were like two hills all covered with snow. He smiled for while he was realistic enough to know that he would be unable to service her again this night in the usual and accepted manner, there were other things a couple could do given the time and inclination...
In his small stone hut that he'd built with his own hands, Lankin rolled of his lower and flopped onto his side of the hay bed where stared angrily up towards the heavens. Their coupling that night had sated him, but it had been quick, frantic and angry and it had done nothing for her at all but she knew her man's moods well and while he was normally a considerate lover, she knew that he was troubled this evening. "Did he give you no reason?" she asked of the man beside her.
"No, the bastard didn't!" Lankin barked sourly.
She shook her head and lapsed into silence seeing that this wasn't the time to pursue the matter.
"But I'll get my revenge, that I vow..." he whispered darkly
A fortnight passed and nothing much changed. Lankin stayed on, living in his hut and showing no sign of moving on. His continued presence bothered the Lord who could do little about the situation. Lankin kept his distance from the Keep, the Lord and his family... but his continued presence niggled at the nobleman like an itch he couldn't reach. The arrival of the King's Messenger one afternoon came as little surprise to the Zetland and, as he broke the Royal Seal, he had a terrible foreboding of what was likely to be contained therein.
An hour later, as the Lord and his Lady rode together on the moor, he tried to explain, once again, to his young wife just what was happening and what it meant for them. "The King has requested my presence in London and I do not like it. Like I have told you before, Lankin has the King's favour. I feel sure that Lankin has told the King of my defaulting on our agreement and I am worried about what His Highness will now say to me. But while I am away, I want you to be very careful with regard to Lankin for he remains in the area... and I do not trust that man. I forbid you to ride out of the Keep until after I return..."
"But My Lord!" she started to protest...
"No, listen! You are to stay off the moors and away from the countryside altogether. Remain near the Keep and ensure that the doors are bolted and barred at night. I shall leave an entourage of knights to guard you but promise me that you will take every precaution. Lankin is a wily fox and I fear for you and our son."
"I will do as you say, my Lord..."
From the doorway to his small cabin the next morning, Lankin silently watched Lord Zetland lead a troupe of knights, soldiers and servants away from the Keep, heading towards the south road. He smiled as he watched for his plan was going well. With the Lord making his excuses to the King in London, he would have a much freer hand up here in Yorkshire.
"Come back to bed, Lankin," the woman sharing his bed called out. "It's cold and I have to return to the Keep shortly."
Smiling, Lankin turned to face her, the sunlight streaming through the doorway behind him causing a halo to be created around his head. She looked adorning at his naked form and, once again, dreamily thought that there was a second reason that he deserved his nickname. As he approached and knelt down beside her, she reached out her hands and, cupping his balls in one, used the other to warm his prick. "My cuckoo's nest could use some feathering," she hinted causing him to broaden his smile.
"Could it now?" he replied jovially. "But is it not thorned and prickled all around?"
"Not to you, my fine young cock!"
Laughing at her impish tone, he clambered back under the covers, his manhood quickly regaining it's normal impressive size in the warmth of the bed. Leaning towards her, he kissed her once and then gently eased his way into her. "Remember, my sweet cuckoo... midnight, the kitchen door."
"I'll be there, Lankin. No one ever questions the Nurse for I have good reason to be in the kitchen at the strangest of hours."
Lankin chuckled out loud as he penetrated deeper into her. "And I'll make that reason the instrument of my revenge..."
Appropriately enough, there was a violent thunderstorm that night which conspired to drive the castle guards to seek shelter from the wild elements and to make it far easier for Lankin to gain access to the Keep than he'd previously thought. Well before midnight he was quietly tapping at the barred kitchen door. The well oiled bolt was eased back from the inside and moments afterwards the two conspirators were in each other's arms, their lips pressed hungrily against each other as their tongues eagerly touched and played. Pulling back, Lankin looked deeply into the eyes of the nurse. "I love you," he stated simply.
"And I, you," she responded.
"Are you ready to proceed?"
"Yes, my love."
"Where's the lady of the house?" said Lankin, carefully checking every detail of his plans just as he usually did though these plans more normally concerned the construction of some fortress or other rather than some act of violence.
"She's up in her bedchamber, asleep."
"And where's the baby of the house?"
For the first time, the nurse looked worried for much as she loved the man before her, she wasn't sure abut this. "Where's the baby?" he asked again, firmer this time.
For a second a flash of lightening lit the scene and she had to wait until the roll of thunder that followed it had subsided before she could reply, "He's asleep in the cradle."
"Fetch him down," Lankin instructed her.
Reluctantly the nurse turned to obey. "Is there no other way?" she asked over her shoulder.
Lankin shook his head. "No. I promised myself that I would drink the blood of that man's first born and that I will do!"
The nurse returned a short time later carrying a small, well wrapped bundle in her arms. Her heart went out to the little mite but such was her devotion the the man who so secretly shared her life, that she brushed this aside. She proceeded to lay the child down on the kitchen table and to gently remove the covers from the tiny body. Lankin drew his knife from the jewelled scabbard that hung from his belt. "Fetch a basin," he commanded of his lover. The bowl was soon brought and then using a pin, he commenced to prick the child's skin.
The baby woke with the first prick and loudly began to bawl. In her bedchamber on the floor above, the lady's dreams were rudely interrupted. At first she simply rolled over and pulled the sheets up around her ears but still the crying went on, building in intensity. Another roll of thunder crashed through the night as the lady began to wonder why she could not hear the nurse comforting her child. Finally, as the crying continued to increase in volume, the lady reluctantly eased her naked body from out of her warm bed and, pausing only to wrap herself in a spare blanket, entered the nursery next door to her own room. When she saw that the cradle was empty, she began to worry as her Lord's words came flooding back to her.
Listening intently, the lady quickly realised that the sound of crying was coming from below her, from the kitchen. She rushed to the head of the stairs and peered down into the gloom. Below her and far in one corner, she could just make out by the light of a single candle there, the outlines of two figures. "W...what's going on?" she cried down.
"You'd best come to see your child," the voice of her son's nurse replied from below
Somewhat reassured by the sound of a familiar, trusted voice, the Lady relaxed before calling out that the stairs were dark and could not the nurse bring the child up to her instead?